The Mail I Get

Based on the emails I have been getting lately, TV show fans who are aspiring writers seem to have a fundamental mis-understanding about how tie-in novels get written and published. They think that you just send in your fanfiction and the editor picks the best of them to be the official tie-in (I guess we can blame STAR TREK for that…the publishing franchise has occasionally snapped up unsolicited manuscripts). Here’s an excerpt from an email that I got yesterday:

I’m writing because you have authored a number of books for
various series, and I’m in the infant stages of attempting to do the
same thing.  A longtime friend and I have both been writing for many
years- and also happen to have a very similar style.  We are planning to collaborate on a novel for the USA series Psych. What I’m hoping you’d be willing to share with me are the
requirements for gaining permissions to actually step forward with this
process. […] I am simply looking for the entrance ramp to get me on the
publishing freeway (sorry, that was a horrid analogy).

I replied:

Don’t waste your time and
effort, Tanya, I’m afraid that you’re too late…there already are PSYCH novels being
written by William Rabkin. He has a contract for three books with
Penguin/Putnam. The first PSYCH novel comes out in January, the second
in July. Even if there weren’t already PSYCH books in the works, I
would have given you the same advice.  Studios routinely “shop” their
successful TV series to publishers (if the publishers haven’t already
come to them first). Once a publisher pays for the license, they hire
writers to pen the books. Usually those writers are people the editors either
already know or who are established in the business and who can be
trusted to deliver a book on deadline.

The “entrance ramp” into publishing isn’t complicated: write a good ORIGINAL novel, not a tie-in based on other
people’s characters. That’s how I got in, that’s how every author I know got in.

4 thoughts on “The Mail I Get”

  1. I wrote to Paramount a gazillion years ago asking how to submit an original “Star Trek” novel. The studio was kind enough to send me a four-page letter outlining the criteria for consideration. I wish I still had that letter. It, basically, read: “No fanfic; no slash; no romance novels”.
    I haven’t read a “Star Trek” (any incarnation) novel in a long time. I wonder if the rules still apply …


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